The Us. Project
The Us. Project
541 Mt Eden Road, Auckland
5 - 10 March, 2019
Opening night Tuesday 5 March from 6:00pm
Panel discussion Sunday 10 March, 2pm
The Us. project (exhibition, book, website) is a collected action of unity, that makes a beautiful and significant contribution of voices and faces to a larger conversation about sexual abuse in our families and communities. While New Zealand social mores still make discussions of consent, abuse, recovery and reporting uncomfortable and sometimes even unwelcome, the mood is changing. Megan Bowers-Vette’s Us. project predates the #metoo movement, but has striking resonances. Sexual abuse is increasingly acknowledged as being pervasive, excused (even permitted), ignored, massively under-reported, and, where reported, having an unsatisfactory rate of conviction. The shame is ours, as families, communities and societies but does not belong to the victims and survivors. It is time to talk.
Megan Bowers-Vette, a photographer living and working in Whangarei, is herself a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Her portrait and narrative is included as one of the 50 in her ‘show and tell’ project. Participants are self-selected; they have volunteered their names, their faces and their stories about living with sexual assault. As a result of the open invitation to be part of Us. there has been no recourse to stereotyping, no individuals are expected to be representatives for others and no experiences have been rated or undermined as more or less worthy for inclusion. The eyes that meet (or avoid) our gaze on the pages and gallery walls belong to women of all ages, and to men. They are not anonymous. They have stepped into the light. The names and identities of the offenders and perpetrators have been omitted, for legal as well as personal reasons. This is not their moment. They can stay in the murky dark. Us. project is exhibiting the full suite of 50 portraits and stories of men and women affected by sexual assault, one week only at Studio 541 in Mt Eden, Auckland.
See also the recent profile by Qiane Matata-Sipu in issue #88 of D-Photo magazine